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Wolfe the brewer calls time

PUBLISHED: 19:54 21 May 2008 | UPDATED: 14:32 14 July 2010

HE is the man who brought us 'Howlin' good beer'. But after 25 years in the pub and brewing industry, Wolfe Whitham has announced his retirement.

Mr Whitham, who is regarded as the pioneer of modern micro-brewing in Norfolk, established the Wolf Brewery in 1996 on the site of the orchard of the former Gaymer Cider Works in Attleborough.

HE is the man who brought us 'Howlin' good beer'. But after 25 years in the pub and brewing industry, Wolfe Whitham has announced his retirement.

Mr Whitham, who is regarded as the pioneer of modern micro-brewing in Norfolk, established the Wolf Brewery in 1996 on the site of the orchard of the former Gaymer Cider Works in Attleborough.

Over the years, he has watched the business flourish, winning countless awards for its distinctive, flavoursome beers, and moving to new premises at Besthorpe.

But this week, Mr Witham, 59, from Norwich, said he had decided to call time and had sold his remaining interests in the brewery to the company which took over the business in 2006, WBC

(Norfolk) Ltd.

“I have tremendously enjoyed my time with the brewery over the years, but I felt it was the right time to retire. My family connection with the brewery still remains with step-son Paul Kerridge as chief brewer, making sure the beer is up to spec, and

my step-daughter, Alex Kerridge, part-time in the office,” he said.

“Alex has just taken her own pub, The Beehive in Leopold Road, about 500 yards from my house, which is very convenient for me! My partner Sonja is also a shareholder in a new Spanish real ale brewery and we both hope to spend more time in Spain on that project. So although I have retired, the rest of the family are keeping the dynasty going.”

Mr Witham said that since moving to larger premises, the brand had added to its reputation by expanding into bigger markets.

“At the time of moving, I was convinced that the traditional pub trade was under threat from many quarters, which threatened our core trade,” he said.

“This led us also to commission a small bottling line capable of producing high quality bottle beers, with a view to getting Wolf beer into new and bigger markets.

“This has proved a tremendous success and Wolf beer can now be found on larger retailers' shelves such as Tesco and Waitrose, Co-op, as well as farm shops, delicatessens and many more.

“This success has recently led the company to invest substantially in a much larger machine capable of producing many more bottles per hour, not only of Wolf Beer but also able to handle contract bottling for other brewers.”

John Edwards, director of WBC (Norfolk) Ltd, said the future looked bright for the Wolf Brewery: “We are expanding the bottling side and ordered a brand new bottling machine which is due to arrive in July,” he said.

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